Thursday 9th of February 2023

oil slick subsidies from the labor party for slick oil.....

Albanese government out-Barnabys-Barnaby with a big Budget gift for fossil fuel donors to build the Middle Arm port and petrochemicals project just 3k from the Darwin suburb of Palmerston. Michael West reports. 

They leaked the story to Rupert Murdoch’s NT News. As you do. 

Thanks for the scoop. “$2.5bn bonanza for the Territory …”. A glowing report ensued. No word the new Port might be underwater by turn of century, a climate bomb spewing toxic chemicals through the air to residents of the Darwin suburbs nearby.


BY Michael West


We will be hearing a lot about “jobs, jobs, jobs”; abundant greenwash and hogwash about “sustainability” in the corporate media. The reality is a bizarre $2bn subsidy for the government’s corporate donors, the Big Gas Mates, to open up the Beetaloo Basin further inland for gas fracking.

Santos gets its cut, Inpex too. Even Texas oil billionaire Bryan Sheffield. His fracking start-up, Tamboran Resources, is another winner. 

Its proponents have freshly rebranded the project the “Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct”. We had playfully dubbed it the Port of Barnaby before the Election, deriding the notion of an un-costed, toxic petrochemical development just 3k from the Darwin suburb of Palmerston as peak fossil fuel baloney, another Morrison regime shoot-from-the-hip campaign promise. 

Yet the new Federal government, which has done well so far in so many ways, has managed to out-Barnaby the man himself. Gas is this government’s greatest weakness. Santos is proceeding in the Pilliga, there are no meaningful moves to tax gas super profits, rein in power bills, earmark exports for domestic use, control the gas cartel. Mostly just subsidies, support for new projects, and Resources Minister Madeleine King opening up almost 47,000 square kilometres of ocean for oil and gas exploration. 

The funding for Barnaby’s port had not yet been signed off by Coalition government. Yet Treasurer Jim Chalmers has earmarked $2.5bn in the impending Federal Budget.

There will be a fight. There is no feasibility study, no environmental impact justification yet. But the forces behind the project, from Scott Morrison’s gas taskforce chief Andrew Liveris to the powerbrokers of Big Gas, are potent. 

The following picture from a recent NT government press release shows most of the precinct will be used for gas processing, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, with small areas set aside for minerals processing. Bear in mind, petrochemical plants make plastics, and gas is the major input. Also bear in mind that carbon, capture and storage (CCS) is expensive and therefore as commercially feasible as the myth of “clean coal”.

Co-Director of the Environment Centre NT Kirsty Howey says “There’s nothing sustainable about the Middle Arm Project. It’s about toxic petrochemicals and plastics production in Darwin Harbour using fracked gas from the Beetaloo Basin.”

“The Minister’s commitment of funding for the Middle Arm Industrial Precinct is simply shovelling huge amounts of taxpayer funds to the  fossil fuel industry.”

report released by ECNT from US environmental scientist Dr Michael Petroni modelled the likely impacts of this precinct and found there could be an increase in industrial air pollution of over 500%. 

There is a build it and they will come aspect to the whole plan. The zone would accelerate some of Australia’s biggest gas projects on Australia’s latest fracking frontier, the NT’s Beetaloo Basin, and offshore in the Timor Sea. Although proponents are parading the project as “sustainable” and It’s really a hub for Beetaloo frackers, an export facility to be financed by taxpayers for the benefit of mostly foreign-owned exporters of Australian gas. 

Tamboran Resources Joel Riddle told a Senate inquiry in October that “the gas that will be extracted from the Beetaloo will be necessary for a full range of industrial purposes at the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct, near Darwin”.




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